Retirement haven policy review sought

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A global leader in residence and citizenship planning has urged the government to revisit its strategy to make the Philippines more attractive as a retirement haven for foreigners.

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Juerg Steffen, managing partner of Henley & Partner’s (H&P) Singapore Office, told reporters over the weekend that the Philippine government has to market its retirement program better, so as to make the country more attractive to wealthy businessmen from around the globe.

“I think the government should re-package its marketing strategy, so that its retirement program will be more attractive to its prospects,” said Steffen.

Steffen also cited some reasons why foreigners don’t consider the Philippines as their retirement destination.

“Security is among the reasons why foreigners don’t consider the Philippines as their retirement destination,” he said. “So the government should exert more efforts to improve the peace and order situation and the security.”

He added that the Philippine passport is considered “weak,” as holders can travel without a visa only to a limited number of countries, specifically, just 62 countries.

“The passport of the Philippines is relatively weak, so you cannot travel to a lot of countries,” Steffen said.

In contrast, the Malaysian passport allows a holder to travel to at least 166 countries without a visa, while the Singaporean passport allows its holder to go to 170 countries sans a visa.

Based on the H&P Visa Restriction Index 2015, the four worst passports in the world are still Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Pakistan.

Steffen said H&P would like to beef up its operation in the Philippines, since the country allows dual citizenship.

“The Philippines is very interesting because dual citizenship is allowed,” noted Steffen. “There is no language barrier, and a lot of Filipinos love to travel.”

Known to work for affluent individuals worldwide, H&P is targeting wealthy Filipinos, who would like to invest outside the country and at the same time love to travel.

H&P is introducing in the Philippines a residence and citizenship planning program that primarily aims to lessen the burden and time of securing visas.

Through the program, Steffen explained, visa will be waived, allowing the holder to travel in many countries without the burden of securing one.

H&P formed the concept of residence and citizenship planning—or alternative citizenships and investor migration—in the 1990s.

As globalization has expanded, residence and citizenship have become topics of significant interest among the increasing number of internationally mobile entrepreneurs and investors who work with H&P.

The firm also runs a government advisory practice, and has been involved in strategic consulting, as well as the design, set-up, and operation of several of the world’s most successful residence and citizenship programs. These programs, the company claims, have attracted have more than $4 billion in foreign direct investments to date.

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